Asphalt is an affordable, long-lasting, and smooth solution for your driveway, but how much should you expect to drop on driveway paving? The average asphalt driveway costs about $4,996, with a typical range between $3,086 and $7,912.
This pricing guide will help you budget for your asphalt driveway project by breaking down costs by the size of your driveway, the price of asphalt per square foot and by the ton, and labor expenses.
We’ll also cover the costs of some other outdoor services often bundled with installation of an asphalt driveway, and the costs — and pros and cons — of installing an asphalt driveway yourself vs. hiring a professional.
- How Much Does an Asphalt Driveway Cost?
- Cost Estimator by Driveway Size
- Other Factors Affecting Cost
- Services Often Bundled With Asphalt Driveways
- Costs of a DIY Asphalt Driveway
- FAQ About Asphalt Driveways
How Much Does an Asphalt Driveway Cost?
The average cost for an asphalt driveway is $4,996, but that will vary depending on several factors, including the size of your driveway, how deep of a layer of asphalt you want for your driveway, and even the type of asphalt.
- Low: $1,670
- Average: $4,996
- High: $10,900
- Typical Range: $3,086 to $7,912
What is Asphalt?
This black sticky substance is a solid or viscous form of petroleum. Asphalt is mostly used for paving roads and driveways, but sometimes plays a role in waterproofing. Pavers often combine asphalt with gravel, sand, or other substrates to create asphalt concrete, a durable paving material.
The cost efficiency and ease of repair make asphalt concrete one of the most widely used paving materials in the U.S.
Types of Asphalt
Asphalt comes in a wide range of grades and types specialized for commercial, residential, and industrial applications. Most of these types fall into four broad categories.
- Hot Mix Asphalt: Like it’s name suggests, hot mix asphalt is heated up to temperatures of 300 to 350 degrees. While pliable and pourable at hot temperatures, this stuff turns rock-hard the second it cools. Paving with hot mix asphalt requires specialized equipment and skills. This stuff is durable, weather resistant, and popular for large-scale projects like roads, driveways, and parking lots.
- Cold Mix Asphalt: Compared to hot mix, this asphalt is much cheaper and easier to work with. You don’t have to heat it up and can pave during colder months of the year. However, you sacrifice some durability and strength. Cold mix asphalt is mainly used as a temporary fix for patching holes in the road. It’s also slow to set and not recommended for high traffic areas.
- Warm Mix Asphalt: Warm mix asphalt is a relatively recent technology that combines the strength and durability of hot mix with the versatility of cold mix. This mix pours at temperatures of 30 to 120 degrees, making it more cost effective to transport and safer for workers. It uses a foaming process and chemical treatments to stay viscous at room temperature. The downside? Warm mix is currently more expensive and harder to find on the market.
- Porous Asphalt: This highly specialized asphalt is mainly used for large parking lots. It’s specially designed to allow water drainage, preventing run-off problems during heavy rains. You probably won’t put porous asphalt on your driveway.
Grades of Asphalt Concrete
There are also several grades of asphalt concrete, depending on the size and density of the substrate mixed in. Grades with larger pieces of gravel are typically used to form the bottom layer, and then a finer layer of asphalt is poured over the top.
Grade 41A is typically known as the “driveway mix” because it’s most commonly used for home driveways. When we discuss average prices, we’re referring to Grade 41A, as your contractor typically will use this grade with hot mix asphalt.
Asphalt vs. Concrete vs. Gravel for a Driveway
There are three common paving materials for driveways, asphalt, concrete, and gravel. Here we’ll quickly break down the pros and cons of each along with price and longevity.
✓ More durable than gravel.
✓ Less expensive than cement.
✓ Sets very quickly.
✓ Dark color hides oil stains.
✗ Needs to be seal-coated every 2-5 years.
✗ Hot weather can cause crumbling.
✗ Fewer options for color and customization.
Lasts: 12-35 years if properly maintained
Price: $4-6 per square foot
✓ Most durable.
✓ Easier to customize or decorate.
✗ Cracks are very expensive to repair.
✗ Takes up to a week to fully set before use.
✗ Oil stains are more visible.
Lasts: 30-40 years
Price: $3-10 per square foot
✓ Inexpensive to build and maintain.
✓ Quick to Install.
✗ Difficult to remove snow and ice.
✗ Sinkholes and ruts form easily.
✗ The gravel is easily scattered.
✗ Harder to clean.
Lasts: 4-10 years before refreshing gravel
Price: $1-3 per square foot
Cost Estimator by Driveway Size
The size of your driveway is the biggest factor in determining the cost of your asphalt driveway. Expect to be charged at least $3,258 for an average-sized driveway at an average price. Sometimes the costs of labor will be added, sometimes they are included. Here we’ll break down the costs by square foot, ton, and labor hours.
Cost by the Square Foot
This is by far the most common method of charging for a new driveway. Here are the average prices for an asphalt driveway by square footage for a variety of sizes.
Low Price: $3.92 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $1,176
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $2,509
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $5,880
High Price: $6.25 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $1,875
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $4,000
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $9,375
Average Price: $5.09 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $1,527
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $3,258
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $7,635
Cost by the Ton
Some companies may add on the cost of asphalt. This charge is usually calculated by the ton. Here is your typical price range:
- Low Price: $92.5 per ton
- Average Price: $121 per ton
- High Price: $150 per ton
Cost by Labor Hours
Though not as common, some companies will charge an additional rate for labor costs. You can expect labor costs to be between $40 and $55 an hour, with an average rate of $47.50.
How much this adds to your bill will depend on several factors, including the size of the work crew and the length of time spent making your asphalt pavement.
If you have a one-person work crew on the job for 8 to 16 hours, this will add $320 to $880 to your bill. A three-person crew working 8 to 16 hours would add $960 to $2,640.
Other Factors Affecting Cost
Your final bill for your asphalt driveway is going to depend on a lot of factors, including the depth of your asphalt layer, any decorative (stamped asphalt) or extraordinary (heated driveway) features, and the cost of substrate.
Depth of Asphalt Layer
For ordinary home driveway use (cars and trucks yes, semi trucks no), 2 inches is generally enough. However, some people want a little extra driveway strength and prefer a 4-inch layer of asphalt.
A 2-inch thick driveway will require 1 ton per 80 square feet. A 4-inch thick driveway will need 1 ton for every 40 square feet. Let’s test this out on some common driveway sizes:
Small Driveway (300 sq ft)
- 2 inches thick: 3.75 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $347
- Average Price: $454
- High Price: $562
- 4 inches thick: 7.5 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $694
- Average Price: $907.50
- High Price: $1,125
Average Driveway (640 sq ft)
- 2 inches thick: 8 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $740
- Average Price: $968
- High Price: $1,200
- 4 inches thick: 16 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $1,480
- Average Price: $1,936
- High Price: $2,400
Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft)
- 2 inches thick: 18.75 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $1,734
- Average Price: $2,269
- High Price: $2,813
- 4 inches thick: 37.5 tons of asphalt
- Low Price: $3,469
- Average Price: $4,538
- High Price: $5,625
Stamped, decorated, or colored asphalt can add distinction and character to your home’s curb appeal. Stamped asphalt typically costs between $12 and $17 per square foot. Here is what you can expect to pay to get the whole driveway done with decorative asphalt.
Low Cost: $12 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $3,600
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $7,680
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $18,000
High Cost: $17 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $5,100
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $10,880
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $25,500
If you live in a colder climate and don’t mind dropping a little extra cash, you might opt for a heated driveway. This will cut down on having to shovel and push around a snowblower in the winter. A heated driveway is going to cost between $12 and $25 a square foot.
Low Cost: $12 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $3,600
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $7,680
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $18,000
High Cost: $25 per square foot
- Small Driveway (300 sq ft): $7,500
- Average Driveway (640 sq ft): $16,000
- Large Driveway (1,500 sq ft): $37,500
Cost of a Permit
Some municipalities require you to buy a permit before laying down your new driveway. Check with your county, city, or township before hiring a pro.
The average cost for a permit for an asphalt driveway usually falls between $50 to $200.
Cost of Resealing
After installing a new asphalt driveway, you want it to last. One of the most important things you can do to extend the life of your asphalt driveway is to add a fresh coat of sealant every two to five years. This will create a protective membrane and prevent unnecessary damage.
Expect to pay $0.17 to $0.24 per square foot for a professional contractor to seal your driveway. If you’d rather do it yourself, the materials usually cost between $50 to $200, depending on your driveway’s size and condition.
Cost of Substrate
Are you building a driveway from scratch, or replacing an existing one? If you’re installing a new driveway, you may also need to pay extra for a layer of gravel or other dense substrate to create a foundation.
Substrate can add an extra 50 cents to $1 per square foot to your asphalt driveway cost.
Services Often Bundled With Asphalt Driveways
Other outdoor services are often bundled with the installation of an asphalt driveway. Most of these additional services (tree removal or land grading, for example) involve preparing the land for your driveway.
If you live in a wooded area or happen to have trees where you want to install your new driveway, you might want someone to cut down the trees for you. We find the average homeowner spends about $750 per tree for removal. However, this can cost up to $2,000 as larger trees will always be more difficult to remove.
Cost of tree removal: $400 to $1,200 per tree
Stump Grinding and Stump Removal
A tree stump can get in the way of laying your asphalt. Stump grinding costs an average of $205 per stump. Stump removal costs an average $326. Sometimes companies will charge by the size of the stump, in which case you can expect to pay $2 to $3 per inch of diameter.
Leveling and Grading of Land
If you have a sloped yard, consider having it leveled or graded before installing your asphalt driveway. This will make it easier to lay asphalt, and make your driveway much smoother. A change to your landscape this large is going to cost you though. The average homeowner pays about $2,500 for a major alteration to their slope.
Cost to level and grade land: $1,000 to $6,000
Landscape lighting is a great way to add security and visual accents to your home. Pathway lights might also help you find your way to the front door in the dark. You’ll find this service bundled because a set of lights can look great illuminating your driveway.
Average cost for landscape lighting: $2,000 to $6,000
Costs of a DIY Asphalt Driveway
You may be tempted to install your own asphalt driveway. Resist the temptation. This is going to be an enormous project. But if you think you’d like to DIY your asphalt driveway, we’ll outline the pros and cons as well as costs and materials required.
Pros: As with any DIY project, the biggest benefit is going to be cost. You won’t have to pay for the time and expertise of a professional asphalt paving company. You also might get some satisfaction from building your very own driveway.
Cons: Honestly, we don’t recommend taking on this home improvement project yourself. Asphalt can be toxic so you’ll need to be careful and follow all recommended safety precautions.
This is a very labor intensive project that often requires specialized equipment.
Also, asphalt isn’t as forgiving as some construction materials, so you can easily find yourself stuck with an uneven driveway surface.
Estimated Cost of Materials and Tools
You’ll need materials, tools, and special equipment to install your asphalt driveway, and we have priced that out below to help you budget out the cost of installing your own asphalt driveway. Keep in mind that 1 ton of asphalt gives you 80 square feet at a 2-inch thickness and 40 square feet at a 4-inch thickness.
|Sealant||$0.17 to $0.24 per sq ft|
|Gravel||$10 to $50 per ton|
|Asphalt||$90 to $150 per ton|
|Shovel||$10 to $63|
|Asphalt rake||$50 to $85|
|Bobcat rental||$50 to $150 a day|
|Asphalt roller rental||$150 a day|
How to Install an Asphalt Driveway in 5 Steps
If your heart is still set on installing your own asphalt driveway after we’ve given you fair warning, here are the basic steps to take.
1. Prepare your land
First you need to clear the land. This could include tree and stump removal, or brush clearing. You might also need to remove your existing driveway. This will require either contracting pros or renting some heavy machinery such as Bobcats, stump grinders, or forklifts.
Next, you’ll need to grade and level your property to the appropriate slope. Improper drainage can cause water damage to your asphalt, increasing the likelihood of cracks.
2. Lay your base
The base layer is your driveway’s foundation. Often made of gravel or similar materials, the sub base provides a sturdy surface on which to lay asphalt and protects your driveway from damage caused by freezing and thawing.
You’ll want your sub base thoroughly compacted before laying asphalt.
3. Put down a binder
The binder is a large aggregate like gravel mixed with oil or tar. This layer goes over the sub base and will give your driveway strength and structure.
4. Asphalt Surface
Now you’re ready to lay down your top layer of asphalt. This top layer of asphalt is made of small aggregate, sand, and oil or tar. Smooth down your top layer as best you can before moving on to the final roll.
5. Final Roll
Now that you’ve laid down your asphalt, it’s time to get it to be a smooth, flat surface before it hardens and you’re stuck with an uneven driveway. For your final roll, you’ll typically need a roller truck or other heavy means of flattening and leveling your asphalt.
DIY Cost vs. Hiring a Pro to Install Asphalt Driveway
Depending on the size of your asphalt driveway, you can save several thousand dollars by installing your driveway yourself. A professional asphalt driveway installation will run you an average of about $5,000, while DIY could cost you under $1,000 if you have a small enough driveway.
That said, we can’t really recommend tackling this project yourself. Asphalt installation requires specialized skills and leveling equipment. Without skill and the necessary equipment, you could easily end up with an uneven driveway, or one that cracks as soon as the weather changes.
There are also safety considerations. Without the right clothing and protection, asphalt fumes can be highly toxic. Unless you have construction experience, we recommend hiring someone who knows what they’re doing.
FAQ About Asphalt Driveways
With proper maintenance, your blacktop should last at least 20 years.
quiet, cost effective, and can increase your curb appeal. This gives asphalt an edge over paving materials like concrete and gravel.
The total cost of your asphalt driveway will mostly depend on the size of the area you need paved. After that, how much work you need ahead of time to clear and grade the land will determine your final price tag.
coating every two to five years to get the most life out of your driveway. Be sure to stay on top of patching any potholes before you need serious driveway repair or repaving.
An asphalt driveway will cost you anywhere from $3,086 to $7,912, with an average cost of $4,996. Note that the price of any add-on services will increase your final bill.
Before writing your budget for your asphalt driveway, consider the size of the space you want paved and the land that will need to be cleared. Also decide if you want to tackle this project yourself or go with a pro.
We highly recommend going with an asphalt contractor who knows what he or she is doing. Be wary of anyone driving around in a pickup truck, trying to get rid of their old asphalt. We’re happy to help you find an asphalt paving contractor in your area.
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock